Sunday, January 29, 2006

Eastern Washington Genealogical Society Upcoming Events and Classes

As a member of the EWGS, I am excited to share some great upcoming events for 2006! If you go to the EWGS website and click on "Calendar of Events," you will see a listing of the great topics we will be having during our montly meetings. The one I'm most excited about will be our annual October workshop, which will feature nationally known speaker Michael John Neill! Plan to attend. The monthly meetings (with the exception of the October workshop) are free to attend. You don't even need to be a member. Most meetings are held the first Saturday of the month (except summer months, and Labor Day weekend) at the Spokane Downtown Library. Times and dates are listed on the Calendar of Events page.

For the new educational classes that are now offered, click on "Special Classes." These computer classes are free to members of the EWGS. If you are not yet a member, this is a great incentive to join! I will be teaching the April class (not yet scheduled).

Free Genealogy Conference in Spokane, Washington

The third annual Genealogy Conference will be held Saturday, March 11, 2006 at the Spokane North Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints at 401 W. Regina, Spokane, Washington. This is a FREE all-day event, but it is best to register ahead of time, especially if you wish to purchase a syllabus (which I recommend) and order a sack lunch. Details, including times, classes, registration information, syllabus and sack lunch costs, will soon be available at Grave Concerns. Last year was the first time I attended, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I don't remember paying over $11 total for the syllabus and the lunch.

As we arrive closer to the date of the conference, I will post more information.

Home Life in Colonial Days

I'm reading an interesting library book entitled Home Life in Colonial Days, by Alice Morse Earle. Originally published in 1898, it was republished by Berkshire House Publishers in 1993 (IBSN 0-936399-22-8, paperback). Home Life explains the 15th and 16th century everyday life to 21st century readers. The way homes were built, furniture was made, flax was grown and made into linen, food was grown or foraged and then prepared are all explained in easy-to-read detail, illustrated with simple black-and-white etchings. Anyone researching their colonial ancestors, or intending to write about this time period would benefit by reading this book. Earle also wrote Child Life in Colonial Days, which is also available from Berkshire House Publishers.

Online Genealogy Class

Last Monday night (January 23rd), I began teaching my third online genealogy class offered through our local community college district's Community Education Program. I have five students, down a bit from last quarter, in which I had 13 students. However, I have noticed that it is harder to get students for an evening class for Winter Quarter...mainly because those who are interested in genealogy tend to be retired people, especially women, who do not want to be traveling on winter roads in the dark (not that I do, either!). A year ago, we did not get enough students to enroll in my Winter Quarter class, and had to cancel it. We have had an especially mild winter this year, and so the commute has not been too bad. My Spring Quarter class will be offered April 24 - May 15, Monday evening from 6:00 - 8:00 p.m. at the Instute for Extended Learning's Valley location at Sprague and Sullivan. If you live in the Spokane, Washington area, and are interested in taking one of my courses, check out the course schedule and registration forms available here. Please note that as of today's date, only the Winter Quarter schedule and registration forms are available. Keep checking back on the IEL website until you see the Spring Quarter information listed.

International Genealogical Index

Last weekend (January 21 and 22), I spend a lot of time searching in the International Genealogical Index (IGI). If you're not familiar with this database, I highly recommend checking it out. Number one reason: it's free! Number two: many of the sources of information in this database are extracted from official records. Note of caution: I said MANY, not ALL...and there ARE errors. However, it's a great way to find clues as to which counties your ancestors' vital records (birth, marriage, death) may have been recorded in. Then you can order the actual records on microfilm to see for yourself (but that's a topic for another day).

So how did I access the IGI? I went to, which is the official website of the Family History Department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (sometimes referred to as the Mormon Church...the preferential term is LDS Church, however). Using the search feature on the main page, I entered the following information in the corresponding search fields:

First Name: james
Last Name: york
Country: united states (you scroll down to get the correct country, or tap the letter "u" four times)
State: michigan (scroll down, or tap "m" four times... the "State" search field does not come up until after you've chosen the United States for your country)

Then I clicked the large Search button.

On the next page appeared 54 matches, from seven databases. I only wanted the IGI, so I clicked on its link (IGI/North America) in the box on the right side of the screen...the one titled "Sources Searched." I then viewed a page of the 13 results for James York in Michigan in the IGI.

My great-great-grandfather, James L. YORK, was born in Atlas Township, Genesee County, Michigan on 7 October 1867 to John H. YORK and Anna CROTHERS. I know this, because I have a copy of his birth record located in the Genesee County Birth Register Libers (books). You will notice that there are two matches in the list of 13 James Yorks that fit my ancestor: Number 1 and Number 6.

If you click on James York's name in entry Number 1, you will see James's birth information, along with a message near the bottom of the page: "Extracted birth or christening record for the locality listed in the record." This information is an extraction (an official viewing and copying of the main data of a record, which is usually double-checked for accuracy before being published) of the actual birth record from the Genesee County Birth Register Libers. Extracted records are usually (but not always) accurate, and are a more trustworthy source than submitted information (as we shall see). At the bottom of the page, you will see Source Information, with a linked number (1018921). This is the microfilm roll number. The Genesee County Birth Register Liber 1 (Volume 1) has been microfilmed and given the number 1018921. You can go to your local Family History Center and rent this roll of microfilm from Salt Lake City for $5.50 for 30 days. When it arrives, you can view the actual record of James York's birth.

If you click on James York's name in entry Number 6, you will see birth, death, and marrige information, including his spouse's name, listed. The message at the bottom of the page reads: "Record submitted after 1991 by a member of the LDS Church. No additional information is available. Ancestral File may list the same family and the submitter." This is submitted information, and I happen to know who submitted this. This information came from distant cousin of mine, who is a member of the LDS Church. He received his information from me when I shared my family tree data with him. In turn, he submitted this information to the IGI along with all his other data. While the information he submitted is correct, a problem arises when corrected or updated information comes along. There's no way to determine if submitted information you see on the IGI is incorrect or outdated. That's why I suggest you not use submitted information other than as a rough guideline. The extracted information is much more trustworthy, and you can always use the Source Information to help you access the original record to view it yourself.

If you are looking for an entire family, rather than an individual, you can go back to the main page and enter the surname (last name). Pick the country of your choice. You will not be able to further limit your search by state or province when you do a surname search. In other words, if I were researching my Sweers family, I would enter "sweers" (without quotation marks) in the Last Name search field, and choose the United States in the Country search field. The list I then receive is very long, as it lists not only the Sweers, but also the Swears, Swayers, and other similarly-spelled names. I want to keep this feature, even though it makes a longer search, because my Sweers ancestors used unusual spelling. If I wanted to keep it only on the Sweers spelling, I would click on "Advanced Search" on the main page, instead of clicking on the "Search" button. The Advanced Search gives me a choice to use the exact spelling.

Again, when I have my page of matches, I click on the IGI/North America results on the right side of the screen. I scroll through and look at the matches that are most promising, always choosing the extracted information over the submitted information.

Last weekend, I found new information on about 50 individuals that I was searching for. Some information was updated, i.e. I had only an approximate birth date, and then found an official birth date. Other information was additional, i.e. I found names of children for individuals that I did not have before. It was a lot of fun to search through the IGI and add more to my YORK, SWEERS, and CROTHERS families. I have a list of microfilm numbers now that I can order at my local Family History Center so that I can view the actual records myself at a later date.

Happy Hunting!

Monday, January 16, 2006

Henry Lyton...or George Turk?

My sister-in-law called me last night to tell me of a discovery she'd made. She did a search for our husbands' ancestor, Henry Lyton (c. 1841 - 1874) at, and had come up with a listing in the Civil War Pension Index for his name. We know him as the 3rd-great-grandfather who came from Canada to the U.S. to fight for the Union during the Civil War. Well apparently, Henry Lyton was a pseudonym. His real name was George Turk, and he fought with a Michigan Engineers unit during the war.

Diane did a bit more searching, found a Turk family website, and contacted someone listed there. Guess I'll be updating my husband Norm's database with much more, corrected, information soon, on this, Turk, line.

Remembering Ruth Lillian (Hoekstra) DeVries

Today would have been my maternal grandmother's 87th birthday, were she still living. In her honor, I sponsored her page at Find A Grave. Take a look and then go to her AnceStory on my website to learn about this loving grandmother of mine.

Speaking of Find A Grave, one of my goals this year is to add as many names as I can of those in my three databases (mine, Norm's, and the Atlas Project's) to this website. The original goal was that each day I would use the search feature of my databases to find who had been born or died on that day's date (January 16th, for instance), and if they had a burial place listed, I would add their information to Find A Grave. Lofty goal, as I have about 35,000 names combined in those three databases. But I am square up through January 8th.

Ernest YORK - death info at last

Three years ago (10 Jan 2003, to be exact), I made a research goal to find out what happened to my great-grandfather's brother, Ernest York. The latest record I had for him was in the 1930 Federal Census, when he was living with his wife and two daughters in Flint, Genesee County, Michigan. I had heard from a relative that later he and his wife divorced. Attempts to forward mail to his daughters through the Social Security Administration about 10 years ago were futile. I simply didn't know where to turn next, and I didn't want to wait until the 1940 Federal Census came out to find where he next went to.

Talking to descendants of his sister Hazel York Mcilveen and half-brother Wayne Randell also proved fruitless. His brother (and my great-grandfather) Howard York's obituary had no mention of siblings. Their father (and my great-great-grandfather) James York's obituary did not mention children, either.

I finally decided to try to find an obituary for their mother (my great-great-grandmother) Mary "Mae" E. McArthur. I had to go the round about way to find it. I only had a death year (1959) for her and a possible death place (Wheeler, Gratiot County, Michigan), but knew she was buried in the Ortonville Cemetery in Oakland County, Michigan. Using Google, I was able to find a phone number for the cemetery, and got both burial (19 Oct 1959) and death (16 Oct 1959) dates for her, but no death place.

I then went to Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness to find a volunteer to help me get an obituary. I was pretty sure Mae had died in Gratiot County, so I picked a volunteer from there. This weekend, the very kind lady e-mailed me Mae's funeral record and an obituary. Besides all the great information on Mae and other family members, the obit mentioned Ernest living in Alaska. Now that triggered something, because I remembered about five years ago looking up all the Ernest Yorks on the Social Security Death Index. I remembered finding an Ernest York who was born in 1894 that lived in Alaska. That stuck with me, because I was born and grew up in Alaska, and at the time I saw the listing for Ernest York in the SSDI, I thought it would be interesting that we might have lived in the same state at the same time. I had no idea if this was my Ernest, because I didn't have a birth date for him (other than "c. 1895"). Yesterday, I ran another search in the SSDI, and found my Ernest (died Sep 1976). His last known location was Anchorage, Alaska, and his birth date was 12 Apr 1894...a date I remembered finding about 3 months ago on his World War I Draft Registration at

So back to RAOGK to find a volunteer for the Anchorage, Alaska, who has promised to send me a copy of the obit, if she finds one. Stay tuned...

Moses Crothers - possible son of John Crothers and Mary "Polly" Wyckoff?

A few weeks ago, I did some research in the Clinton County, Michigan Birth Records (Volume A, as viewed on Family History Library microfilm #0987077), and accidentally (or serendipitously?) stumbled across a birth record for an unnamed female child of Moses and Sarah Cruthers. She was born 14 Jan 1869 in Bingham Township. Now I have come across Moses Crothers/Cruthers from time to time doing searches on the Internet for my own Crothers. But what stood out at me was Moses' (and Sarah's) birthplace as listed on their daughter's birth record: Erie County, New York. That is exactly where my Crothers lived before moving to Eastern Michigan. So I made a photocopy of the record and took it home.

Now my John Crothers was found on the 1840 Federal Census of the Town of Clarence, Erie County, New York. In that census, only the names of the heads of households were listed. All others in the household were listed by number of genders of certain ages ("number of females under the age of 10," etc.). I can plug in wife Mary "Polly" Wyckoff and five of their children (Anna - my ancestor; William, Willard, Elizabeth and Nancy) using the census data for that household, but there remains one female, born c. 1826 - 1830, and one male, born c. 1835 - 1840, unaccounted for. I have, until recently, assumed these children died young, as there seemed to be no records of these children to be found elsewhere.

This weekend, I did some work at entering records I've found into my database at RootsWeb's WorldConnect. I decided to add Moses Crothers, but not plug him into any of my Crothers' lines until I verify he's related. I did a little hunting online using Google, and found a mention of his marriage record at the Flint Genealogical Society's website. He and Sarah A. Howe were married 7 Jul 1866 in Genesee County, Michigan. Good news, as my Crothers moved from Erie County, New York to Genesee County, Michigan around 1850.

I then went to, and looked up Moses in the 1870 Federal Census. He and Sarah were living in Bingham Township, Clinton County, Michigan (post office: St. Johns) with their daughter, Mary E., who was born c. 1869 in Michigan. Can't say yet whether this is the female child whose birth record I mentioned above. But on the same page was William Wyckoff and his nephew Washington Wyckoff (two doors away from the Crothers) and on the other side of the Crothers was a household headed by George Krull. Now, my Crothers family's mother's name was Mary "Polly" Wyckoff. Her brother was the William Wyckoff on that page, and their nephew (whom William raised) was Washington. Polly and William also had a sister, Jane Wyckoff Kroll/Krull, who had a son George, who would be the right age for the George I found.

Also, Moses' age indicates that he was born c. 1837. We already know he was born in Erie County. It looks very much as if he is the missing son of John Crothers and Mary "Polly" Wyckoff; if so, he was living in the same area as his Uncle William Wyckoff, his cousin Washington Wyckoff, and his cousin George Krull...not unusual in those days for families to emigrate and settle together.

It gets better: After John Crothers passed away between 1840 and 1844, his wife, Mary "Polly" Wyckoff married William Chappell. They had two children, including a son named John Chappell. John Chappell and his half-sister, Nancy Amanda Crothers Phelps both lived in St. Johns, Clinton County, Michigan, and are buried (as is William Wyckoff) at Mount Rest Cemetery in St. Johns.

I went to Find A Grave; and found a listing for Moses Crothers in the Mount Rest Cemetery, along with a daughter named Myrtle, who is listed as the daughter of Moses and Nancy Crothers. Not sure if Nancy is a second wife of Moses; perhaps it was Sarah's nickname (her middle initial was "A"; it could be that her middle name was Anne; Nancy is a common nickname for Anne).

I am going to order the Clinton County Death Records to see if I can find a death record for Moses. His parents may be listed, and if so, he may be the missing son.